Fishing Rating: Hot Good Fair Poor
Bear Canyon Lake – Rating:
Bear Canyon Lake was snowed in through late spring but is entirely accessible. The plentiful winter/spring snow filled the lake and water temperatures will be cool well into mid-summer. These cooler water temperatures will allow trout to be found at all water depths in early summer. By mid and late summer, the surface temperatures will be higher, so fish deeper during the middle of the day. Trout may feed near the surface in the very early morning and just before nightfall. Bear Canyon Lake is steep, as well as deep. There is little shallow water, except at the upper end of the lake. Fish using small spinners and lures. Bait anglers should try fishing with a worm and bobber. Fly anglers using a float tube can find solitude at Bear Canyon Lake, especially on weekdays. However, fly-fishing from shore or wading is difficult because the tree line comes right to the water’s edge, and the water gets deep close to shore. The lake is stocked once a month from April to September with Rainbow Trout. Green sunfish were illegally introduced to Bear Canyon Lake and there are no limits on them. Kids can try a small hook with a worm under a bobber during the warmer parts of the day to catch sunfish when the trout aren’t biting.
Black Canyon Lake – Rating:
Black Canyon Lake is full thanks to the heavy winter and spring snowfall. Water quality is good after snowmelt runoff flushed the lake well, but pH levels may get high by the end of summer. The lake has been stocked with rainbow trout and will get stocked a couple more times through the summer. Fish using small gold lures or dry flies in early summer, then switch to fishing bait near the bottom as water temperatures increase in mid to late summer.
Black Canyon Lake is 78 surface acres, with a maximum depth of 60 feet and an average depth of 35 feet. Like other Rim lakes, Black Canyon is deep, and low in nutrients. Catchable sized rainbow trout are stocked in the spring and early summer. The lake also currently contains illegally introduced green sunfish and largemouth bass; anglers are encouraged to catch and remove these species to help control their populations. There is no limit for bass and sunfish here. Both boat ramps are fully accessible while the lake is full.
Chevelon Canyon – Rating:
Winter storms have refilled Chevelon Canyon Lake making launching a small boat or float tube relatively easy again. However, it is difficult getting down to the lake. Only OHVs 50 inches wide or less (those that fit through the metal gate) are allowed on the road down to the dam, otherwise it’s a hike-in lake. Illegal traffic on this road by full-sized vehicles have damaged the road so badly that it is preventing the lake from being stocked with trout. The regular fall stocking in 2018 was canceled because of bad road conditions and only half of the spring 2019 stocking occurred. Future stockings may likely get canceled until the illegal traffic can be controlled and the road is improved for hatchery trucks. Only brown trout reproduce naturally in Chevelon while rainbow trout are dependent on regular stockings. Thus, angling in Chevelon Canyon Lake will decline until the road situation can be resolved.
Because of the difficult access, this lake is popular with float-tubers. Its deep canyon and well-forested edges make this lake a cool respite during the summer. Some lures to try are Kastmasters, Panther Martin spinners and Rapalas for stocked rainbows and wild brown trout. Fly-fishermen should try wooly buggers or wooly worms in black or brown colors, crayfish-colored patterns, and brown or black Simi Seal leeches, peacock ladies or other large streamers. Chevelon Canyon Lake has special regulations with a two trout daily bag limit and artificial fly and lure gear restrictions.
Clear Creek Reservoir – Rating:
Rainbow trout are stocked once in April and once in May as a put-and-take fishery; fishing for trout is good after stocking but can diminish as water warms beyond trout tolerance. Fishing for sunfish, catfish and carp remains good throughout the summer. Try small hooks with a worm and bobber near rocks and structure for sunfish. For bullhead and channel catfish, use bait on bottom such as worms and chicken livers, especially at night when catfish are most active.
Willow Springs Lake – Rating:
Lake levels are great, having filled from snowmelt runoff in the spring. Willow Springs is stocked with catchable rainbow trout weekly throughout the summer, with tiger trout stocked in May and July. Try Kastmasters, small Rapalas or Panther Martins for trout in early summer while water temperatures are still cool. Shore anglers fishing for trout can try nightcrawlers or PowerBait. As summer wears on, water temperatures increase, driving trout deeper towards cooler water. However, the lake stratifies by late June, with only the top 18 feet of water having enough dissolved oxygen for trout. The trout tend to suspend at the 16-18 foot depth in July-August, which is where lures and bait should be presented at that time. Green sunfish, largemouth bass, and smallmouth bass were illegally introduced to this lake and there are no limits on them. Kids can try a small hook with a worm under a bobber during the warmer parts of the day to catch sunfish when the trout aren’t biting.
Woods Canyon Lake – Rating:
Lake levels are great, having filled from snowmelt runoff in the spring. Woods Canyon Lake is stocked with catchable rainbow trout weekly throughout the summer, with tiger trout stocked in May and July. Try Kastmasters, small Rapalas, Panther Martins, or flies for trout in early summer while water temperatures are still cool. Shore anglers fishing for trout can try nightcrawlers or PowerBait. As summer wears on, water temperatures increase, driving trout deeper towards cooler water. However, the lake stratifies by late June, with only the top 18 feet of water having enough dissolved oxygen for trout. The trout tend to suspend at the 16-18 foot depth in July-August, which is where lures and bait should be presented at that time. Green sunfish were illegally introduced to Woods Canyon Lake and there are no limits on them. Kids can try a small hook with a worm under a bobber during the warmer parts of the day to catch sunfish when the trout aren’t biting.
Becker Lake – Rating:
Becker Lake can only be fished with artificial flies and lures with a single-point barbless hook, catch and release for trout only, to maintain big trout in this Blue Ribbon fishery. Big rainbow and tiger trout lurk along the weed beds on the south end, but can be found in the middle of the lake by boat and float tube as well. The trout are mostly found near the bottom in cooler water during the summer months. Fly fishing at this time consists mostly of fishing small midges 12-15 feet below an indicator, but there is an occasional hatch in the evenings that trigger a surface bite. Also look for flying ants on the water in the evenings during monsoon season. Very early mornings are also good. The trout are tight lipped in the heat of the middle of the day. Trout caught during the summer should be released as soon as possible, preferably without taking them out of the water, so they can get back down to the cool water at the bottom where they will have a better chance of recovering than in the warm surface water. There is limited opportunity for shore fishing and wading because of drop offs and vegetation, but there is a floating fishing pier that is handicapped accessible. Spin fishermen can try Z-rays, small Kastmasters or Panther Martins with the treble replaced with a single barbless hook. Rainbow trout and tiger trout are stocked once in the spring and they grow up to 20 inches consistently. The lake is full for the first time since 2017.
Big Lake – Rating:
Because of its size, water quality, productivity and visitor amenities, Big Lake is considered the White Mountain’s best fishing lake. The lake is stocked with fingerling and subcatchable rainbow trout, cutthroat trout, and brook trout in the spring and fall, and they grow to catchable and sometimes trophy sizes on the natural productivity of the lake. Fishing is excellent in early summer, then slows in July and August as water temperatures increase. Big Lake rarely stratifies, so the trout are able to go deep to cold water in July and August. Trolling spinners, flies, or small crankbaits works well in early summer and is moderately successful in mid to late summer. Bait and shore fishermen can try anything from worms to PowerBait. To attract cutthroat, use lures that resemble crayfish or their movement. Brook trout will hit flies, but also try nightcrawlers on the bottom.
Greer Lakes (Bunch, Tunnel, River) – Rating:
All the Greer Lakes were full in the spring and will be good for early summer, but lake levels will drop significantly as water is released for irrigation. All three lakes are stocked with catchable size Rainbow Trout in April through June while the water levels are good. Wild Brown Trout are also found in each lake, with the biggest browns found in River Reservoir. Cast spinners and small spoons such as Panther Martins, small Kastmasters and Z-rays in early summer. Fly-fishing with Prince Nymphs, Hare’s Ear nymphs and Peacock Ladies works well by float tube or boat. You could also try fishing off the bottom with nightcrawlers or PowerBait. As water levels get low and boat launching is difficult or non-existent, bait fishing is most productive.
Carnero Lake – Rating:
Early summer fishing should be great. The lake was stocked heavily with rainbow and tiger trout, plus a few big rainbows survived through the long winter. Carnero was one of the few lakes that didn’t fill over the winter, but has a much better water level than last year. The weeds are not too bad in early summer but may become problematic by August. Shoreline fishing is difficult and the best way to fish this lake is from a small boat, canoe or pontoon. There is no traditional boat ramp and anglers have to slog through some mud and weeds to reach open water. Fly fish for rainbow trout and tiger trout with wooly buggers, prince nymphs or light-colored nymphs in open areas. The water is deepest near the islands on the north end of the lake. Restrictions include fishing with artificial flies and lures only and a 2 fish daily bag limit.
See the pdf file for the remainder of the lakes in the White Mountains region:
Little Colorado River
Show Low Creek
Show Low Creek meadows
Show Low Lake
*Community fishing lakes